What Hi-Fi (UK)
Rega Planar 6
Unbox the Rega Planar 6 and you’d be forgiven for expecting a turntable experience not dissimilar to the company’s long line of Award-winning turntables. And so it is. Yet, when this model first appeared, it marked a huge step up in performance from the previous generation – and that former Award-winner was hardly shabby.
The previous RP6 came fitted with an Exact moving-magnet cartridge
– and that option is still available on this current model (for £1259), but the company currently offers a variant with its Ania moving-coil cartridge. That’s what we have on test here. Set-up is easy, and the Ania tracks best at 1.75g.
We’d recommend at least a day or two running-in time to get the Rega singing. It’s worth the wait; this is the subtlest and most articulate Rega Planar 6 yet.
What marks the Rega Planar 6/Ania out from its rivals (and the older RP6/ Exact model) is that it doesn’t go for immediacy to grab your attention.
‘Boldness’ isn’t put to the forefront – instead its party piece is the unnerving ability to juggle balance, subtlety and timing in the most understated way.
A mature sound
It’s an astonishingly refined and mature sound. Some of that is down to the moving-coil cartridge’s inherent characteristics, but this overall package more than justifies its higher pricing.
Spinning Alice by Tom Waits, we’re struck by how every element is given equal billing – the instruments aren’t overshadowed by Waits’ voice, nor do the deep bass notes overpower the piano. It’s a bewitching balancing act.
The growly depths and raspy edges of Waits’ vocal are unearthed effortlessly. All the subtleties of his voice are laid bare, sounding more nuanced and emotive than just his usual deep, gruff persona.
The muted trumpet’s presentation in the song is light and nimble and – here is something that only the very best hi-fi can do – it sounds utterly convincing. There’s a palpable sense of depth, solidity and texture to the bittersweet, meandering tune.
Switch to a more recent track, such as SBTRKT’S New Dorp New York, and the Planar 6 is transparent enough to show off the production differences.
Where Tom Waits showcased textures and depth, here the track exemplifies just how precise, agile and rhythmically secure the Rega sounds.
Those deep, steady basslines have no hint of flab or boom to them. They’re pulled taut and are utterly punctual.
The beat’s build-up is gradual, but once it peaks the Rega keeps that momentum steady – the underlying rhythm never sounds monotonous or inconsequential. You’ll find your foot tapping along without even noticing it.
There’s a huge amount of space conveyed when playing The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Dukas. You can gauge exactly where all the sections of the orchestra are seated. Once again the Rega shows off its maturity during the opening moments: the swift, high notes are crisply delivered and shine just enough without sounding too sharp.
The rhythmic ebb and flow is effortlessly precise – and when it goes quiet, it really goes silent. Timing is spot-on, and the clarity with which every instrument is presented is wonderful to hear. We like how this outfit doesn’t shout about what it’s doing. It just does it.
Apart from the finish, the Planar
6’s simple design looks pretty much identical to most of Rega’s turntables over the decades. But this current iteration rang the changes – and not just with a fresh lick of paint (although we love that sophisticated matt-grey finish). There were major changes throughout.
The plinth is now made of lightweight foam core, sandwiched between extremely thin but rigid laminates. It’s a similar concept to the Rega Planar 8 construction in the sense that both decks use a Tancast 8 polyurethane foam – a material developed for the aerospace industry.
There’s a separate power supply unit – in this case a Neo PSU. It also lets you change speed electronically. The deck’s 24V motor is hand-tuned to match the Neo and its anti-vibration control, too.
There’s little in the way of isolation, bar the three aluminium-trimmed rubber feet, so it’s essential the deck is placed on a sturdy, level support to minimise any vibrations travelling to the turntable. As ever, also do your best to position it away from speakers and other electronics to reduce any hum and interference.
Choosing your partners
That necessary level of care goes for system-matching, too. The higher price and the improved sound it represents means the Planar 6 demands a high class of partnering equipment. That’s partly because the Ania MC cartridge needs a high-quality phono stage, amplifier and speakers to do it (and the deck) justice.
The Rega Planar 6/Ania’s masterful handle on rhythm and subtle detail is a delight, with refinement adding to the deck’s customarily musical and insightful performance. The unit’s balanced, mature presentation is something you’ll appreciate the more you listen to it. So get listening.